By Mamadou Dem
The former Managing Director of Gamtel, Baboucarr Sanyang, yesterday while continuing with his testimony on the Gamtel-Gateway contracts, told the ‘Janneh’ Commission that he was not aware that the former president solicited the sum of $10,000,000 from MGI.
Mr. Sanyang who reappeared for the second time, testified that Gamtel did not have the Cisco platform which was requested by the National Assembly but the Company has the institution [GTMI] that trained people on the Cisco platform.
According to the former national telecom boss, Gamcel has the said platform which is extended to Gamtel and the platform requested by the National Assembly was not available at the time and that was the reason the contract was subcontracted.
Mr. Sanyang confirmed signing the contract of MGI whose interest was to incorporate Gamcel for the networking system, and the officials were invited at Gamtel office where they had a presentation. He however said he could not remember giving contracts to MGI other than that of the National Assembly.
He further testified that he recommended Balla Jassey of Mobicell Group for the installation of the Cisco network at State House which he said was not a contract, but an outright recommendation. Upon looking at a letter authored by him for the refurbishment of the Cisco network at State House, he said Gamtel funds were not used in the installation of the Cisco platform at State House.
He however disclosed that the funds used, were from the maintenance budget of Gamtel, as it was their responsibility to deploy and maintain the telecom facility at State House; that he was told by Commander Sanneh that the sum of $316,469.39 was offered to be paid partly by Gamtel; that he discussed the contract for the refurbishment of State House but did not have any document to show that they had a contract.
He however said he had the approval from the office of the former president and not the board of the Company / Gamtel; that the MGI contract with State House was a unilateral responsibility of Gamtel to carry out maintenance work on the telecom system at State House.
Mr. Sanyang revealed that he made it clear to the office of the former president that they could not do the contract beyond their capability; that the service rendered to State House was free and they were replacing the telecom system.
Mrs. Bensouda put it to him that the maintenance of the telecom system at State House cost $632,938 out of which Gamtel only paid $316,469.39 on behalf of State House.
At this juncture, Sanyang disclosed to the Commission that the money spent on the maintenance of the telecom system at State House would be reimbursed. He however said they did not receive any reimbursement from the office of the former president; that it was their social corporate responsibility to do the service at State House unlike that of the National Assembly, further stating that the said contract was done when Gamtel was receiving funds from the Gateway contract unlike before when the funds were diverted to the bank.
According to him, the social corporate responsibility was something they inherited. He said Mobicell was qualified to get the contract at State House because they had a relationship with Cisco who linked them to Mobicell.
On MGI, he said he knew the Company from 2011 to 2012, adding that this was the Company that had an interest to cooperate with Gamtel for network operations and MGI was introduced to him by Mr. Balla Jassey.
He however said he invited them to Gamtel to do a presentation but could not remember whether he gave MGI the contract. It was put to him by Counsel that he recommended Mr. Balla Jassey for the contract which was partly funded by Gamtel, which he denied.
He said Gamtel-Gateway was handled by the office of the former president, further stating that if it was the time the traffic was diverted, they would not have been able to pay for the contract at State House.
A letter from Mr. Jassey of Mobicell requesting for payments of the said amount was shown to him, which he confirmed.
On the MGI Switzerland contract, he said he signed the management agreement on behalf of Government; that he did not have the agreement between MGI and Government which was later cancelled. However, Commission Counsel Amie Bensouda, asked him to find out and make it available to the Commission.
According to him, he perused the agreement of the contract to make sure that the interest of the Company was served. He however denied recommending the contract which was signed at the office of the former president.
Mr. Sanyang informed Commissioners that he did not play any role in the termination of ‘Tell’ contract for the management of the Gateway but was instructed from the office of the former president through a letter, to take the Gateway contract from Tell International; that his termination letter was given to him by the former Permanent Secretary at the Personal Management Office, Mr. Dawda Fadera, and shortly after that, he was apprehended and escorted to his office by intelligence officers and was asked to hand over to his deputy with immediate effect. He said he was later taken to the NIA for questioning on the proceeds from the Gateway and subsequently charged with Economic Crime and remanded; but that later the charges were dropped and he was reinstated in 2014.
“I never introduced MGI to General Saul Badjie and I have no knowledge whether the former president requested money from MGI,” Sanyang told the Commission.
Further quizzing the former telecom boss, Mrs. Bensouda put it to him that Gamtel did not have the capacity the National Assembly required to which he responded in the affirmative; that Gamtel did not have qualified engineers to be able to do the service for the National Assembly.
Mr. Sanyang explained that he escorted MGI representatives to Kanilai to enable him submit a letter of intent to the former Secretary General, Njogu Bah, and his mission with MGI ended when the group met Njogu Bah; that Gamtel had no agreement signed with MGI.
According to him, when he sought approval from the office of the former president to have partners for the management of the Gateway, Gamtel was not in a position to do it alone; that MGI would undertake commitment to temporally take over the management of the Gateway from Tell International.
He further disclosed that the team from Gamtel worked with MGI for the installation of Gamtel Switchboards; that he was not privy to the incentive requested by the former president amounting to $10,000,000 to award the contract to MGI; that the agreement with MGI was handed over to him at the office of the former president to sign; that this was a directive from the office of the former president but he could not decline signing the contract as requested by him. He said he did not know whether MGI had a license to operate and Gamtel did not have direct income from MGI.
Responding to Commissioner Bai Mass Saine that Government was not supportive to Gamtel but took away revenue from the institution, he said this happened in his absence and upon his return, he was briefed by the then acting MD Mr. Suso, that the office of the former president wrote requesting for the Gateway proceeds from them.
He said he did not ignore the board of Gamtel because the possibility of losing revenue and its impact was raised with the board; that he suffered to defend the interest of Gamtel.
Testifying earlier Mr. Dodou C.M. Kebbeh, Clerk of the National Assembly, reappeared in connection to the ratification of the Republic of China on Taiwan loan amounting to $35,000,000.
Mrs. Besouda reminded him that he was asked to produce the loan agreement between The Gambia and The Republic of China on Taiwan but Kebbeh responded that he went through all the records from 1997 up to date, but could not find the said agreement in their files; that he was not the clerk then but Mr. B.S. Njie.
He was asked to make a further search for the production of this document.
Hearings continue today.